WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Gannett’s decision Thursday to fire nine of our colleagues was a gut punch to our newsroom that we are still reeling from. They are writers, editors, photographers, designers, news assistants — people who helped to cover our community each day.
They are also our friends.
These firings came one week after Gannett refused to voluntarily recognize our newsroom’s newly formed union, the Palm Beach News Guild.
As we stand in solidarity with our colleagues, we are working to counter this suspiciously timed decision.
Thursday morning, we warned Palm Beach Post managers that the timing of these layoffs appears to violate federal labor rules, which prohibit managers from making significant changes to workplace conditions during a public union campaign.
We continue to weigh our legal options. In the meantime, we are making the following demands of Gannett: Reinstatement, Transparency and Voice.
Firing our colleagues appears to violate federal labor rules prohibiting interference with employees’ rights to organize and requiring “laboratory conditions” prior to a union representation election. Gannett can remedy this by reinstating them immediately and negotiating with us before taking any further action.
Layoffs occurred in Gannett newsrooms across the country this week, but ours was far and away the largest target. Not everyone fired was a member of our bargaining unit, but we stand with all of them.
When our union is officially recognized, we can demand evidence of the need for layoffs and how people were selected for termination. Since the company has taken the extraordinary step of firing our colleagues during a union campaign, we are asking for transparency now.
We demand documentation justifying the disproportionately large number of layoffs in our newsroom, the ways that colleagues were selected and when the decisions were made. As journalists we demand accountability from organizations making critical decisions, and we expect no less in this instance.
Thursday’s layoffs seemed to explain why Gannett refused to voluntarily recognize our union last week despite our newsroom’s overwhelming support.
Given this, we demand that Gannett cease its delay tactics and set a date for a union election in March. We are more determined than ever to advocate for our newsroom.